Member of the board Development Dr. Harald Ludanek in conversation

brands, manufacturer, people, VW

Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles has successfully launched its new Transporter Crafter in recent days. A new development has been made in the development department. DCI has been talking about the development of the new transporter with the brand management board for product development Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles, Dr. Harald Ludanek.

Dr. Harald Ludanek has been a member of the Board of Management of Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles for Product Development since April 1st. He is therefore responsible for the development of the new VW Crafter.

Question: Dr. Ludanek once in a hearty congratulations for the new Volkswagen Crafter …
The now presented Crafter is a completely independent new development of Volkswagen commercial vehicles. Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles has broken new ground in the market research and development of Crafter. What has been done to explore customer requirements?

Answer: Thank you. We as developers were faced with a great challenge here, but this also represented a unique opportunity. On the one hand, we had to incorporate and implement all the political and social implications of urbanization, transport, digitization, efficiency and sustainability for a vehicle generation into the specifications in order to anticipate an optimal van for the future changes.
Our sales organization has conducted hundreds of interviews with business and transport experts, and has conducted three major events with selected major customers.

Extensive secondary market research was just as important as the direct, permanent and productive exchange with more than 900 customer group representatives.
For the first time in the development of the new Crafter, there has been a fusion of product focus and customer orientation. We pointed out that the development processes have been reversed: we have already been involved in the development process very early on before the first prototype was built. We can therefore say: We have developed this vehicle with our customers for our customers.

Question: The Crafter has become a smartly designed vehicle in the current VW DNA, what were the requirements for the design team?

Answer: We were also able to choose a fundamentally new approach in design. This was consistently analytical: especially in the commercial vehicle sector, design has to fit into many different customer groups, both for the CEP service and as a construction vehicle or as a base for a travel vehicle.
The innovative exterior of the new Crafter offers the best cW-value of its class at 0.33, and at the same time an ideal ratio between useful and traffic surfaces. On the basis of this basic aerodynamic form, a concept has been developed that works across all derivatives. Also the appearance of the new Crafter corresponds to the current Volkswagen DNA. The outstanding aerodynamics are underlined by a modern surface and light play. The new Crafter is a new powerful, sovereign face in this transporter class.
In the interior, we have implemented the driver’s environment in the new Crafter to meet the needs of our customers for a practice-oriented workplace.

Question: Which USPs draw the new Crafter?

Answer: The new Crafter has a variety of unique features. Only by the electromechanical servo steering are assistance systems such as ParkAssist, parking assistant, tracking assistant and trailer assist possible at all. This is not the case with any competitor. Also features such as FrontAssist with city emergency braking function, edge protection, multi-collision brake as well as the Ergo-Comfort seat equipped with the AGR seal of approval occupy a special position in this segment. In addition, there are also elements such as car-net, fleet management interface and the universal floor. In addition, the Crafter has numerous other best-in-class features. Much more is not there.

Question: The Crafter is now starting with fixed variants, the complete range will be completed in the year 2017. What is the timetable for this?

Answer: We are now starting with the pallet truck in the dimension L3H3 and the double cabin. There will gradually be variants such as, for example, single cabins, long wheelbases and in the summer of 2017 further drive variants with rear and all-wheel drive. There will be a total of 69 derivatives. The factory has a production start of a further model variant quasi-monthly in the following one and a half years. The last derivatives will be available by mid-2018.

Question: The theme of the RV: The model diversity and derivatives, especially with certain box-wagon models, the chassis version and the windmill, are predestined for the development and construction of leisure and travel vehicles. What does VW commercial vehicles plan in this area?

Answer: With the new Crafter we offer the most modern and safest base for Reisemobile. The assistance systems in particular are particularly popular in this market. We are therefore in a lively exchange with different manufacturers from the industry and it will not take long before these introduce their first models. We already expect the first variants at the CMT in Stuttgart in January.
Of course we are also investigating the segment for a big brother of the California with great interest. Whether or not we actually implement such a vehicle depends on many factors that are currently being evaluated.

Dr. Ludanek, thank you for the interview!

Claus-Detlev Bues

Claus-Detlev Bues

Claus-Detlev Bues has been working as a senior editor for caravaning for decades. In addition to several print titles, he is also responsible for online reporting as a D.C.I chief editor and also oversees the areas of test and technology. Several books about caravaning come from his pen. In his spare time, he likes to work on oldtimers and is an active self-employed and developer of motorhomes with whom he is traveling all over Europe.
Claus-Detlev Bues